What has 66 legs and travels 84,372 miles in one week? The group of students who took part in our 2014 Community Cat Management training course!
How many animals’ lives can you change in a week?
For the students in UF’s Community Cat Management course, the answer was an amazing 544. From Aug. 4 to Aug. 8, 33 veterinarians and veterinary students learned how to make a difference in their communities through high-impact cat sterilization programs. Made possible by a grant from PetSmart Charities, the course was led by Dr. Julie Levy, a UF professor of shelter medicine who also is an internationally-known community cat expert. The course combined mentored clinical spay-neuter training with classroom sessions.
Advocates of Trap-Neuter-Return programs targeting unowned community cats consider these programs to be a critical component of humane feral cat management and curtailing euthanasia of cats at animal shelters. Hence, service learning is “the heart of the Community Cat Management course,” course organizers said.
Advanced Instruction and Mentoring
Students worked with Gainesville’s own community cat-focused Operation Catnip, which coordinated the feline patients and their caregivers. Over the entire week, 544 community cats were sterilized.
“UF’s veterinary students already get an incredible amount of surgery experience by volunteering with Operation Catnip at monthly clinics,” Levy said. “This course is an opportunity to go even further, with advanced instruction and mentorship. We have a wonderful week of camaraderie while learning a great deal.”
Students learned advanced techniques for sterilization surgery and handling medical complications. Other portions of the course covered social, programmatic, and legal issues impacting community cat programs.
This year’s 33 students included 14 veterinary students and 19 veterinarians. They hailed from 13 states and three countries, including one veterinarian who traveled 4,380 miles from Taubaté, Brazil. The instructional team included shelter medicine faculty and leaders of the National Spay/Neuter Response Team.